Sunday, September 25, 2011


Earlier this week Adm. Michael Muller accused the Pakistani government of aiding the Haqqani network in carrying out attacks against US troops in Afghanistan.

This morning, on one of the Sunday political shows, Senator (R) Lindsay Graham suggested that the US should consider military action against Pakistan if it continues to support terrorist organizations.  

It is interesting that Haqqani previously partnered with the CIA and was even received at the Reagan White House.   As Glenn Greenwald details, this is nothing new; indeed US foreign policy frequently funds organizations and governments when it suits US interests only to later go to war with the prior ally.  In the case of the Haqqani, the Reagan administration funded and armed the Haqqani to counter Soviet influence in Afghanistan.  Or consider Iraq, which the US armed to counter Iranian influence even as Saddam was gassing his own people (which would later be an ostensible factor in deciding to go to war in 2003).  Or Libya, with which the US recently partnered to render terror suspects to be questioned and tortured (because the US doesn't do torture - we get others to do our dirty work).  

Or consider Osama Bin Laden, who was also funded to counter Soviet influence in the 70's and 80's:
In July, 2004, the BBC reported on the origins of Al Qaeda and wrote: "During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA." President Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, traveled to Afghanistan in 1979, met with bin Laden, and praised his mujadheen.
 And as Newsweek reported in the aftermath of 9/11:
In the late '80s, Pakistan's then head of state, Benazir Bhutto, told the first President George Bush, "You are creating a Frankenstein.
None of this is to say Bin Laden shouldn't have been pursued; the point is that the country would be well served to consider the implications of funding governments and organizations for the unstated purpose of countering the influence of our rivals.  But this is not a conversation that is currently taking place.  As Greenwald points out, one of the Libyan rebel leaders that NATO recently empowered, was turned over to the Gaddafi regime as a suspected terrorist to be questioned and tortured.  This really seems to highlight  how meaningless it is to say someone is a terrorist; it really just seems to be a euphemism for someone that  acts against the interests of the US.  Yesterday's terrorist is today's freedom fighter and will be tomorrow's Evil Villain against whom to wage war.

Is this nothing more than a self-perpetuating cycle of war that benefits no one save for the defense contractors and the politicians who serve them?


For all the rhetoric Republicans throw around about about budget deficits and the debt ceiling, there really seems to be no limit to how many costly (fiscally and lives lost) armed conflicts we get involved with.  It is a glaring omission to discuss an additional war effort without also discussing the associated costs.  But of course, a balanced budget with a manageable level of debt isn't the real interest of most Republicans (or Democrats for that matter).  Rather it is a useful tool to score political points and promote policies that resonate with the conservative base.

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